Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Sailing Date: July 21st, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our second cruise. Our first was with Royal Caribbean and our second was with Carnival.
We came into Miami on Sunday, July 20 and stayed at the Sheraton, Biscayne. It was adequate. We were close to Bayside (which is a wonderful place to begin a vacation). We ate at Bubba Gumps, which was nice.
July 21st (my birthday), we got to the port around 12:30PM. We thought we were early, but we ended up being right on time. Embarkation was a "breeze". There were no major hold ups except for people who didn't follow directions and put up their picture ID, we showed our birth certificates, left our credit card and were off to get our Sign and Sail cards. When we got on the ship, we were expecting a little alcoholic refreshment as we had on our last cruise. It was to on avail. There were no nice treats when we got on board. We really missed that. The Coconut Grill was open for lunch...we ended up eating at the Pizzeria.
Our room was ready and very clean and we even got a surprise. We ended up getting an upgrade to the Main Deck with a window!!! We paid for a guaranteed 4A and ended with that great upgrade. We enjoyed having the window. The rooms on this cruise line were much bigger than the one we went on last year. This boat is a little newer, so that may have something to do with it. Our room was always cleaned expeditiously and we always found those "yummy" mints on our pillows at night. The movies were adequate and the television programming was basic. We got NBC, ABC, and CBS. For those of you who are Soap Opera fanatics, it's perfect. I loved the luxurious Carnival Robes that were placed in our room. I wanted to keep mine, but the $39.00 fee made me think twice.
Well, I love to eat and so does my husband, so we looked forward to having great meals. We only ate in the Coconut Grille twice. There was a peculiar smell up there (it may have been cleaning products), plus it was HOT up there all the time. I'll discuss the heat later. Breakfast at the Grill was "ok", nothing spectacular. I would suggest either room service or eating in one of the "open seating" dining rooms. Lunch in the open seating dining rooms was good. Beware; sometimes you have to order 2 entrees to get full. Our lunch partners ordered the Veggie Wraps and ended up getting a burger to get full. The pizza was great. It was always hot and always good. Dinner was adequate. Don't expect sweet tea, there is only unsweetened. I ate the Prime Rib... which was delicious, the Mahi-Mahi was also delicious and the lobster was great. You can order two entrees of the Lobster...my husband and I split the second Lobster entree that night. I was pleasantly surprised about the amount of seafood on this ship. The other cruise line didn't have much seafood. We went to the Midnight Buffet twice and it ended up being some of the same food that was served during dinner. The buffet is great to take pictures of, and if you want dessert...they are to die for.
Key West was beautiful...very hot though. We got off the boat early because we were only there from 8Am until 2PM. We went to Sloppy Joes and I did some shopping at Clanton Square. We did not participate in the excursions because they were too expensive for our tastes. Getting to Key West was easy because of the trolley provided by Carnival. I suggest you go to the shoptalk with CHRIS. I ended up getting a free pair of diamond earrings and $5.00 Tanzanite earrings...just to name a few.
Cozumel...was HOT in more ways than one. We took a taxi ($6) to "downtown" for some great shopping (thanks to CHRIS) and to go to Carlos and Charlie’s!!!! Carlos and Charlie’s was WONDERFUL!!! It's like an "all day" party. You must order the yard of margarita...but wait until the end of the day. My husband and I made the mistake of going there first...no shopping was done that I can remember. We walked downtown and looked in a couple of stores (I think), and then headed to Fat Tuesday at the Port. We had a ball there as well. Cozumel was worth the trip.
Day at Sea.
There are lots of fun things to do...the hairy chest contest, survivor, talent show, and the newlywed/not-so-newly wed game. Our host Marshall (I think. from Alabama) was great. We went to the Broadway Show, which was good. We think the one on the other ship was a little better. The shopping on board was fair. We got some great souvenirs for not too much. Make sure you check out the gold for $1.00 and inch.
What we didn't like?
1. No Drinks at the beginning of the cruise.
2. It was HOT in ALL the main areas. I don't know if they were having trouble with the air or what? The Coconut Grill...hot, the Palace Lounge...hot, the dining rooms...hot, the Casino...hot, the room...hot. I am normally a cold natured person and for me to be hot was a sign that something was wrong.
3. The alcoholic beverages were really expensive. On the other ship, they had $3.00 yellow birds, Bahamas mamas, and etc. but on this ship we had to pay $6.50 for a souvenir glass and then the refill was $5.50. There were times when the refills were $3.25...but not in the souvenir glass. And don't forget...you must pay a 15% gratuity on alcoholic beverages whether you think they deserve it or not.
4. We were nickel and dimed to death!!! Those annoying pictures were expensive. For an 8x10...$19.95, 7x9...$7.95, and 5x7...$5.95. For drinks in the room $2.50...FOR A 20oz. coke. And don't get me started on tips. I am a former waitress...so I understand the tipping process. They bill your Sail and Sign Card $39.00 per person for tips the entire 4 days. That's fine for the waiters, the people who make our rooms up and all...but I would rather be able to pay what I think is fair. You can adjust your tips up or down everyday at the Information Desk, but you must do it the very next day between specific hours.
What we liked?
1. The Pizzeria was great.
2. The party atmosphere. The music was much better on this cruise line and the Musica Manila band was awesome. The piano bar was good, but we don't like smoke so we didn't stay there long. Karaoke was great.
3. The seafood. There was much more seafood on this trip.
4. The destinations...Key West and Cozumel were really great.
5. The Spa was relaxing. I got a facial, hand treatment, and foot treatment. They were courteous and made sure that I felt relaxed.
I know, this one is long...but we had a lot to say. We really enjoyed our trip for the most part. The other cruise line had pros and cons as well. It just depends on what you like. I would say if you have children (we don't), the Camp Carnival presents some wonderful opportunities for the young ones. Enjoy your cruise and we look forward to hearing what your comments are.